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Marina di Pisa, Italy

Barbanera F.,Protistology Zoology Unit | Guerrini M.,Protistology Zoology Unit | Beccani C.,Protistology Zoology Unit | Forcina G.,Protistology Zoology Unit | And 2 more authors.
Forensic Science International: Genetics | Year: 2012

Molecular DNA techniques in combination with appropriate reference population database and statistical methods are fundamental tools to forensic wildlife investigations. This is even more relevant when taxa with uncertain systematics are involved, as is the case of the genus Ovis (Bovidae), whose evolution has been influenced by multiple events of domestication. The Cypriot mouflon, Ovis orientalis ophion, a protected subspecies endemic to Cyprus, is threatened by poaching. This study deals with a case of alleged poaching that occurred in Cyprus (September, 2010). A car did not stop at a checkpoint and when finally blocked by the police, several bloodstained exhibits (n = 12) were recovered. Three recently deceased mouflons were found by game wardens at the roadside. The Cyprus Veterinary Services established that these animals had been killed by gunshot. As part of the investigation, DNA testing was performed to establish if there was a link between the dead mouflons and the bloodstained exhibits. The mitochondrial Cytochrome-b gene (Cyt-b) and 12 loci of microsatellite DNA were used as markers. The Cyt-b sequences were obtained from 11 exhibits. They were the same as each other and the same as the single haplotype obtained from the three dead mouflons and all the investigated wild Cypriot mouflons (20 individuals). A database of wild mouflons (47 individuals) from which the unknown samples may have originated was generated. The probability of identity (P ID) of the microsatellite panel, computed by genotyping all 47 wild mouflons (10 selected loci, P ID = 10 -5), allowed us to assign nine exhibits to two out of the three carcasses (seven with very strong support: Likelihood Ratio, LR > 3000 and Random Match Probability, RMP, <10 -3). This study represents the first genetic reference for the Cypriot mouflon and the first published material of forensic wildlife investigations in Cyprus. © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Forcina G.,Protistology Zoology Unit | Panayides P.,Cypriot Game Fund Service | Guerrini M.,Protistology Zoology Unit | Gupta B.K.,Central Zoo Authority | And 10 more authors.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | Year: 2012

We investigated the evolution of the Asian francolins, five little known species in the genus Francolinus (Phasianidae). Evolutionary affinities of two of these species, F. gularis (swamp francolin) and F. pondicerianus (grey francolin), has long remained unclear. In contrast, the other three species, F. pintadeanus (Chinese francolin), F. pictus (painted francolin) and F. francolinus (black francolin) have been cast among the "spotted francolins" on a morphological and ecological basis. Previous molecular DNA investigations including Asian francolins mostly relied upon partial gene sequencing of one specimen per species (no more than three species and with the exclusion of F. pictus). Therefore, fundamental questions do persist. What relationship exists among the spotted and the other Asian francolins? What is the geographic origin of the black francolin, the species with the largest distribution range? How did the geological history influence the diversification of francolins across Asia? We sequenced the entire Control Region of the mitochondrial DNA in 228 samples of all five Asian francolin species, which were collected in 16 countries (from East Europe to East Asia). We constructed a molecular phylogeny according to four different procedures. We showed the monophyly of each of the Asian francolins and the spotted group, while that of the entire Asian group was presumed according to a biogeographical model we proposed. The splitting of the genus Francolinus occurred ∼17.4. Ma (95% HPD: 13.4-22.1) while the spotted francolins diverged ∼10.5. Ma (7.0-14.9). We resolved the most recent common ancestor to painted and black francolin as being in the Indian sub-continent, thus suggesting a westwards adaptive radiation of the latter. In Pakistan, we identified F. f. asiae representatives in the Northern Areas and in the Sindh. The latter represents a relict population of Indian fauna within the Pakistani range of the Great Rann of Kachchh. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

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